Move over, CBD! Delta-8 THC is the new star cannabinoid in the spotlight. Although scientists discovered delta-8 THC decades ago, the compound is just starting to become available to the public. But while dispensary shelves and online stores fill up with delta-8 products, many consumers still don’t know what the compound is and what it does.
We’ve prepared this guide with everything you need to know about delta-8 THC so you can decide if delta-8 products are right for you.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a close analogue to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in traditional cannabis plants. The two cannabinoids have a nearly identical molecular structure. The only difference between the two compounds is one double bond. Traditional delta-9 THC has the double bond on the ninth carbon atom, while delta-8 has the double-bond on the eighth atom in the carbon chain. The slight molecular change makes delta-8 THC attach more weakly to CB1 receptors in the brain.
Effects of Delta-8 THC
Since delta-8 THC creates a weaker bond with CB1 receptors, the compound produces mellower psychoactive effects. Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Peter Grinspoon has been conducting clinical research into delta-8 THC. According to Grinspoon, his patients report delta-8 THC as being “less anxiety-provoking, less sedating, and less psychoactive than [delta-9] THC.”
Seasoned cannabis consumers typically say that delta-8 products give them many of the same relaxing, euphoric, and creative feelings they get with regular THC without any intense intoxicating effects like anxiety, paranoia, or couch-lock.
Health Benefits of Delta-8 THC
The National Cancer Institute defines delta-8 THC as “an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.” In simpler terms, researchers have found strong evidence that delta-8 THC may be useful for easing stress, combating free radicals, soothing aches and pains, calming nausea, and stimulating the appetite.
Since delta-8 possesses most of the same properties as regular THC, researchers have focused on investigating the clinical applications of using delta-8 THC with patients who are sensitive to regular delta-9 THC’s psychoactive effects. Clinical trials with children undergoing chemotherapy began in 1995, and the U.S. government has already registered several patents for medicines containing delta-8 THC.
However, scientific investigation into delta-8 THC remains in the early stages. We suggest that you consult with a qualified physician to examine your health issues and help you decide if delta-8 products may help.
How to Consume Delta-8 THC
Cannabis plants typically contain less than 1% delta-8 THC; therefore, the compound is only practical in the form of products containing extracts. Until breeding methods catch up, you won’t find cannabis with higher concentrations of delta-8 as you do with high-CBD hemp flower.
Historically, the scarcity of the compound in cannabis plants made delta-8 extractions prohibitively expensive. These days, cannabis extraction processes have come a long way, and consumers can find more economical delta-8 THC products, such as:
Vaping is the quickest method to feel the effects of delta-8 THC. Most delta-8 vape cartridges work with standard 510-thread vape pen batteries, and you can usually interchange them with CBD vape cartridges. Many manufacturers enhance the taste and effectiveness of their delta-8 products by infusing them with natural strain-specific terpenes. Organic CBD Nugs offers a wide selection of popular Delta-8 Vape Cartridge flavors, including:
- Bubba Kush
- Blue Dream
- Northern Lights
- Pineapple Express
- Durban Poison
- Sour Diesel
How Much Delta-8 THC Should I Vape?
The amount of delta-8 THC you choose to vape will depend on the effects you would like and your personal tolerance to the compound. As with any cannabis product, we suggest that you go “low and slow” when vaping delta-8. Take a puff or two and wait for 10-15 minutes to gauge the effects. You can always vape more if you desire a stronger experience. If the effects are too potent for you, try vaping less delta-8 next time. Every person has a different metabolism and psychological tolerance level.
How Are CBD and Delta-8 Different?
Although cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-8 THC are both cannabinoids, the two compounds produce vastly different effects. CBD interacts with CB1 receptors, but the compound doesn’t bind directly to them like delta-8 and delta-9 THC do. For this reason, CBD helps to provide a sense of relaxation with no noticeable intoxicating effects. In fact, the presence of CBD can diminish the psychoactive effects of THC-based cannabinoids.
Delta-8 THC, on the other hand, imparts a similar sense of intoxication as its sister delta-9 THC. However, the intoxicating effects of delta-8 are more generally more manageable than regular THC.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
At this time, the federal legality of delta-8 products is a bit confusing. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and products derived from hemp. The document defines industrial hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than .3% delta-9 THC.
In states where cannabis has been legalized, manufacturers may extract delta-8 THC from “marijuana” plants, but the extract will not technically be legal on the federal level. The same goes for CBD extractions. As regulations currently stand, both consumers and law enforcement can have a difficult time deciding whether a cannabis-derived product is legal in their state.
One way to help ensure that you’re buying legal hemp-derived delta-8 or CBD products is to purchase only from reputable companies that provide official Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for each product. A COA will show the lab report for the contents, including how much of each cannabinoid the product contains.
It’s a good idea to print and store the COA with any hemp-derived products you buy to avoid misunderstandings with law enforcement. This will help prove that your product has less than .3% delta-9 THC and conforms with federal regulations.
Consumers should also ask to see a copy of the COA to avoid unwittingly purchasing harmful black market products. Third-party labs test for dangerous contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, vitamin E, and residual solvents. We suggest that you avoid buying from any company that won’t provide you with a current Certificate of Analysis.
Will Delta-8 Show Up on a Drug Test?
Unfortunately, delta-8 will probably show up on a routine drug screening that tests for cannabis. As delta-9 THC degrades, it produces delta-8, which makes the compound a target molecule for drug tests. Tests that register 30 ng/ml of delta-8 THC are considered a positive sign of cannabis use. Like its sister cannabinoids, delta-8 THC can remain detectable for 30 days with urine testing and over 90 days using hair or fingernail tests.
If you expect to be subjected to a drug screening in the near future, you should avoid consuming delta-8 products. Instead, you may want to consider a product containing CBD isolate if you’re looking for a new way to relax. CBD isolates only contain cannabidiol with none of the other compounds targeted on drug tests.
Zach is the founder of HempCBDExchange.com. Amateur writer. Social media ninja. Travelaholic. Passionate about all things cannabis & hemp.